Why do Bible translator translate rhea into neighbor in "Love thy neighbor"?

The Jews told me that rhea really means comrades.

So why is it translated as neighbor?

In Indonesia, it's translated as "fellow humans", which is also not neighbor.

Why are there so many different translation for one so called most important commandment.

  • Because a word can have multiple meanings. One meaning of "neighbor" is "comrade". Read a dictionary, and you will see that 'neighbor' does indeed mean precisely "fellow humans"; among other definitions.
    – Flimzy
    May 9, 2013 at 7:56

2 Answers 2


As is often the case, the Bible interprets itself. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, someone asks Jesus who exactly his neighbor is? Jesus replies by telling the story of a Samaritan caring for a complete stranger.

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:25-37 ESV

The word neighbor is probably used by convention. Oftentimes, new Bible translations follow conventions from older translations.

However, I know of no one who would say, "this person does not live next to me, so I don't have to love them." Obviously, in the light of the Luke passage, that is absurd. The passage is clearly indicating that we should love our fellow man.

  • That's still missing the point. Neighbor means guys that live next to me. Rhea simply doesn't mean neighbor.
    – user4951
    May 8, 2013 at 10:45
  • "Fellow man" may, indeed, better capture the meaning in isolation. However, in the context of Scripture, the word neighbor is clearly extended far beyond those who live next to us.
    – Narnian
    May 8, 2013 at 11:51
  • Yes but that's not what the word neighbor in english mean.
    – user4951
    May 9, 2013 at 3:48
  • @JimThio: Of course it is. Read your dictionary.
    – Flimzy
    May 9, 2013 at 7:55

Same reason Jewish translators do. Because it likely captures the best sense of the word.

Judaica Press Tanakh uses "neighbor":

  1. You shall neither take revenge from nor bear a grudge against the members of your people; you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
  • And why is that?
    – user4951
    May 8, 2013 at 10:45

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .